Cats may seem highly independent, but evidence suggests that cats do get lonely. Here, our Zeeland vets explain how long you can leave a cat alone, and give tips for keeping your cat safe and content while you are away.
Cats and Their People
Cat owners know that our feline friends are much more sociable than their reputation might have us believe.
So, do cats get lonely? Like people, our feline friends have a diverse range of personalities. While some cats may be consistently aloof and prefer their own company, other cats happily greet their owners at the door when they get home from work each day then follow their owner around the house meowing. So, some cats will likely adjust better to time alone than others based solely on their personalities, but all cats need their people.
Age Matters When Leaving Your Cat Alone
Very old, very young cats and cats with health concerns tend not to do as well with being left alone. So be sure to take extra care when leaving cats with health conditions, kittens, and senior cats alone.
Young Cats & Kittens
Kittens typically need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day until they are about 6 months old. Young cats also tend to get into mischief when left unsupervised. Kittens under 4 months old should not be left on their own for more than 4 hours at a time. If you know that your lifestyle means that your cat will need to get used to time alone, begin training your kitten by gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of the house. Speak to your vet for instructions on how best to get your kitten used to be left at home alone.
Once your kitten is 6 months old if you need to be away for an extended amount of time it may be best to have a friend or family member take your cat to their house to care for them. If that's not possible, have someone go over to your place once or twice a day to check in on your young cat to make sure they are safe, have plenty to eat, and get some social interaction to relieve boredom.
Senior Cats & Cats With Health Issues
Older cats can be very sensitive to routines, which means that changes to their normal day can be stressful for them to handle. Stress can lead to an increased risk of health conditions. It's also common for senior cats to require extra feedings or medication throughout the day. For these reasons, it may not be a good idea to leave your senior cat alone overnight. If your cat must stay home alone, have someone visit your house twice a day to check on your senior cat.
Under some circumstances, it may be ok to leave your healthy, adult cat alone for 24-48 hours. Of course, this will depend upon a number of factors including your cat's personality, your living conditions, and whether they are used to spending time alone. If your cat is going to be left on their own for a day or two be sure that your home's temperature will stay at an ideal temperature, and that there is enough (dry) food and water left out for your cat to eat while you're away. It's also a good idea to make sure that the litter box is completely clean before you leave.
Tips for Leaving Your Cat When You Need to be Away
If you are planning to be away from home, here are a few tips to help ensure that your cat stays safe while you're gone.
- Speak to your vet to find out if they have any concerns about your cat being left alone. Your vet knows your cat's health concerns and is in the best position to give you advice on your cat's wellbeing.
- We strongly recommend that you have someone check on your cat once or twice a day while you are gone, to ensure that they are safe and have enough food and water for the duration of your absence.
- Check the weather and be sure that your thermostat is set so that your home will remain at a comfortable temperature while you're away.
- Provide your cat with enough food for the duration of your time away. You may want to invest in an automated pet feeder to ration the food and keep it fresher.
- Ensure that your cat has plenty of clean water in a bowl that will not tip over and spill.
- Consider leaving a radio or tv on so that your cat hears voices while you are away. It may help to relieve your cat's boredom.
- Take your cat to a local pet boarding facility. Cat boarding facilities can offer your cat a clean and safe place to stay where they will be well cared for, and provided with plenty of human interaction.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.